Millennium Post

Tobacco advert rules must be enforced: Apex court

The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the interim orders of the Bombay high court staying Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Rules, 2004, also known as Point of Sale rules, for regulating the advertisements at shops selling tobacco products.

The ruling paves the way for the central government to enforce rules on advertisement of tobacco products at their sale outlets that prohibits display of ads larger than 60x45 cm at shops. A bench headed by justice G S Singhvi also slammed the central government for conniving with the tobacco lobby when people are daily dying of cancer. It also expressed serious concern over how the central government handled the case in the high court which had in 2005 stayed the implementation of the rules.

It said that the high court had passed the order without considering its consequences. It also raised question on the motive of the central government for not taking steps to get the order vacated.
The court observed that every day, every moment people are dying of cancer and it is the central government which connived with the tobacco lobby by non- appearance of an advocate during the hearing at the Bombay high court.

SC was hearing a petition from Health for Millions, which had challenged the orders of the high court on various grounds. Among other grounds, it had said that though the interim stay order is in operation for last seven years and which have been made absolute till the pendency of the writ petition, the stay orders have not been vacated and consequently there is no implementation of the provisions of a beneficial legislation having grave implications on public health.

It said that the high court failed to appreciate that the impugned 2003 Act of the 2004 Rules as amended by the 2005 Rules were geared to address the known deleterious effects of smoking on public health in general and on minors and the youth in particular and were geared protecting the youth.
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